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Toronto stock market set to open little changed on thin holiday volumes

December 30, 2013 - 5:25 AM

TORONTO - The Toronto stock market looked set to start the week little changed amid mixed commodity prices and what is likely to be thinner-than-usual volumes as 2013 trading winds down.

The Canadian dollar was down 0.08 of a cent to 93.34 cents US.

New York markets appeared heading for a weak open with the Dow Jones industrial futures up 11 points to 16,433, the Nasdaq futures slipped 0.8 of a point to 3,569.5 while the S&P 500 futures added 1.25 points to 1,837.75.

On the economic front, there is nothing on the Canadian calendar while traders will take in U.S. data on pending home sales for November.

Economists forecast the gauge from the National Association of Realtors will show a rise of one per cent after a 0.6 per cent drop in October. An increase would come after five months of declines.

Later in the week, they will take in the latest readings on house prices, consumer confidence and the American manufacturing sector.

On the commodity markets, the February crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange was 54 cents lower to US$99.78 a barrel.

Metals declined with March copper on the Nymex unchanged at US$3.38 a pound while February bullion lost $10.80 to US$1,203.20 an ounce.

The TSX is preparing to end 2013 with a respectable gain of about nine per cent. Gains would have been greater if not for deep losses in the mining sectors. The TSX gold sector has fallen 47 per cent this year while base metals have retreated 22 per cent.

In sharp contrast, the Dow industrials have plowed ahead 26 per cent.

In corporate news, Montreal-based TransForce Inc. (TSX:TFT) has come out the winner in a two-way bidding war for Vitran Corp. (TSX:VTN), another Canadian trucking and logistics company. Toronto-headquartered Vitran is now supporting TransForce’s offer of US$6.50 per share in cash for the stock it doesn’t already own. The deal is valued at US$136 million, including US$29 million of debt that will be assumed by TransForce.

Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. is calling off its proposed $2.2 billion buyout by India’s Apollo Tyres, a deal that would have created the world’s seventh largest tire company. Cooper said Monday that financing is no longer available and that it still believes Apollo breached the terms of the agreement.

Meanwhile, European bourses were in the red as London's FTSE 100 index lost 0.35 per cent while Frankfurt's DAX and the Paris CAC 40 lost 0.19 per cent.

This was a strong year for many markets, with the DAX up 26 per cent, the CAC index up 18.4 per cent and the FTSE 100 gaining 14 per cent. But none matched Tokyo’s Nikkei 225, which soared 56.7 per cent in 2013 on renewed confidence in the economy after years of feeble growth. Easy liquidity from government spending and monetary policies aimed at fueling inflation boosted shares, though the potential for continued strong gains remains uncertain.

On Monday, the Nikkei 225 index ended 2013 at its highest level in more than six years.

The Japanese benchmark gained 0.7 per cent to 16,291.31 on Monday, its highest close since late 2007.

For the rest of Asia, 2013 has turned out to be much less exuberant.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index, burdened by rising concern over debt and slowing growth in mainland China, has gained just 2.4 per cent this year. On Monday, it edged 0.2 per cent lower while the Shanghai Composite Index fell seven per cent this year and extended that loss Monday, drifting 0.1 per cent lower.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2013
The Canadian Press

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